Welcome B.T. Lord, murder mystery author!
Intro: What is your name, what do you write, and where can readers find you on social media? And just for fun, if you could be any mythical being or creature, who or what would you be?
My Bookbub page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/b-t-lord
And I’m on Instagram as betywriter.
I’ve always had a fascination with griffins. There’s something so majestic and beautiful about them. And I love the idea of being able to fly. What better creature to be but a flying griffin?
- According to your website, “murder mysteries have a way of combining the best and the worst human beings have to offer.” Why are mysteries the best platform for the type of story you want to tell.
My stories not only involve the murder (or murders), but how it impacts the friends and family and the people who investigate the taking of a human life. I created a small town in Maine called Twin Ponds whose sheriff, Cammie Farnsworth, has to try and figure out what happened, while dealing with the impact on the inhabitants, as well as on herself and those she cares about. My stories are about emotional frailty, forgiveness, redemption, guilt and all the nuances that make us human. A murder isn’t committed in a vacuum. There are many reasons that lead up to it. Mysteries allow me to explore those reasons in the context of the human condition.
- You got your first story published in a newspaper when you were in second grade, yet your books are geared toward an adult audience. What do you enjoy about writing adult fiction as opposed to YA or MG?
I hate to admit it, but the first YA I ever read was Harry Potter (which I loved). By that time, I’d been writing for several years and was comfortable in the mystery genre. I’ve actually tried my hand at writing YA, but I found, for whatever reason, it was a struggle for me. The words and action didn’t flow as well as when I sat down and wrote a murder mystery. Maybe I like murder too much – haha.
- You find inspiration for characters from people you know in real life, but where do you get your inspiration for the predicaments and cases in which they find themselves involved?
I swear I have a guardian angel who must have been a writer. I get my ideas in the unlikeliest of places – when I’m walking the dogs, when I’m in the shower, when I’m knitting. I’m also a voracious reader. For example, in the 5th book of my series, Murder Among Crows, I was knitting when I suddenly saw in my mind’s eye, the ending of the book. I instantly wrote it down. Then about a week later, I read an article online about the existence of white crows and how many times they are attacked and killed by black crows because the black crows think of them as diseased and need to eliminate the threat a sickened bird would have to their flock. That article became the metaphor that lies at the heart of the book.
- Your most recent novel, An Equal Measure of Murder, is about a long dead secret. What kind of research did you have to do and what was the most thrilling/scary fact you came across?
I used Equal Measure to set up a new series I’ll be debuting in June that takes place on a set of islands I created off the coast of Maine. I came across an article that spoke about a group of islands off Maine that had just hired a police officer to patrol the islands. When I sat down to work on Equal Measure, I remembered the article and managed to track it down online. I needed to do a little bit more research to see how law enforcement would work on a set of isolated islands in the middle of the Atlantic. My undergraduate degree is in history, so I was able to use my training to devise the backstory for the islands. I’m also a lover of the paranormal and was once part of a paranormal investigation team which gave me lots of experiences that I’m incorporating into the new series (and which I used in Equal Measure as well).
- Which of your reoccurring characters is your favorite to write and why?
I love my heroine, Sheriff Cammie Farnsworth. She’s everything I’m not (lol). She’s brave, isn’t afraid to speak her mind and loves her town and her job. She’s also a vulnerable human being who finds it hard to admit she’s vulnerable because, as sheriff, she believes she has to always be strong, have all the answers, and go above and beyond to prove herself – not only to the townspeople, but to herself as well. Her arc throughout the books has been to learn to accept her faults and to finally start to heal those emotional issues that we all carry around with us.
- What is the hardest part about writing a mystery novel? What is your drafting process like?
I’ve tried both methods of writing – writing by the seat of my pants and having the book plotted out. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a mix of the two. I need to have the murder, who committed the murder and how it all ends before I start. I’ll then sit with a pad of paper and start to broadly plot out the main points for the book. The hardest part, however, is when I hit a point in the book where I don’t quite know where I’m going next. Sometimes I have to step away for a few days while I mull it over in my head. I’m always thinking about the current book anyway, so eventually I manage to come up with a plausible next step. I’m proud of the fact that in the seven books I’ve written so far (which includes a free novella I offer through my website), I’m able to keep the reader guessing with little curves and twists they don’t expect.
- What is/are one or two pieces of advice that you learned while drafting your first book that you wish you had known before you started?
When I made the decision to write murder mysteries, I just jumped in and pretty much spun my wheels creating a story that was big on emotion but small on suspense and on the murder itself. What I eventually did (and wish I’d done earlier) was to take the work of some of my favorite mystery writers and dissect their books. I studied each chapter and saw how they built suspense, how they weaved in the red herrings, how they introduced new characters and, more importantly, how they made each paragraph count. In other words, they didn’t waste the reader’s time by putting in action that was unnecessary to the story, or characters that went nowhere. By studying them, I learned how to create a story that draws you in and moves quickly because you need to find out what happens next.
- Which of your books has been the most fun to write and research and why?
They’ve all been so much fun to write because I’m able to incorporate many of my own interests and experiences in my stories. The third book in the series – A Perfect Case of Murder – is a perfect example. Because Twin Ponds is a small town located in the wilderness of Maine, I have to make sure it doesn’t become the murder capital of the Northeast! I therefore moved the action to Boston, Massachusetts. I used to be a Boston tour guide, and I spent two and a half years working for one of the Boston ‘Brahmin’ families. One of the main characters in the series is a doctor who is from a Boston Brahmin family. This is his story, and Cammie goes along to help him find out who murdered his eccentric aunt.
- The second book in your series Murder by Misadventure, is currently free. Give us your best behind the scenes story about writing this book.
This was also a favorite to write. In honor of my birthday, the ebook, which is available on Amazon, is free from March 14 through March 18, 2018. I started studying shamanism about twenty-five years ago in an effort to understand my life, why certain things happened and my place in the world. It’s been an amazing journey, opening me up to some very profound spiritual experiences. When I started to write Murder by Misadventure, I had a character pop up who needed to be heard. He became Paul Langevin, the local shaman, who is based on my shamanic teacher. It doesn’t overshadow the action, but it’s subtlety woven into the story. I’ve been surprised and pleased by the positive response from the readers who have enjoyed the light spiritual aspects in the series.
- If you had to trade places with one of your characters, who would it be?
Oh, definitely Cammie. She’s taller and prettier than I am, and she has an extremely handsome, hunky boyfriend (just don’t tell my husband I said that).
- This is random but fun one, if you could pick any time period to live in, when would you live and why?
I absolutely adore the Roaring Twenties. I love the fashions and the freedom women suddenly had. I would love to have been in Paris, dancing the night away with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Or doing the Charleston with Edward, Prince of Wales.
- Which kind of villain is your favorite to write about and why?
I like complex villains. It’s no fun when they’re one-dimensional. I like to peel back the layers and reveal the person you may have never suspected was capable of murder. Even if you figure it out, there are still the reasons why they did what they did. As I said earlier, murder isn’t committed in a vacuum. There’s always a trigger. I love to explore what the trigger is.
- Who should read your books?
The biggest compliment I ever received was when a reader compared my books and writing style to Louise Penny, who is one of my favorite authors. Therefore, I’d say that if you like page turning murder mysteries with a twist or two, with characters that are both funny and poignant, stories that tug at your emotional heartstrings while offering up a pretty good yarn, then I hope you’ll take a journey to Twin Ponds, Maine.
- What makes your murder mysteries stand out?
I’m very proud that readers have a hard time figuring out who the murderer is, while at the same time becoming emotionally involved with my characters. I work hard at providing enough red herrings to keep the reader guessing. Those are the mysteries I love to read myself, and I strive to provide that to my readers. I also love to create characters that readers can relate to and enjoy reading about. Many readers have told me they feel as though Cammie and the gang are like family which humbles me and keeps me writing.
- Favorite moment with a fan/someone who’s read your books?
I am humbled and overwhelmed by the emails I receive from readers all over the world who love the books and constantly urge me to write faster! I think the most poignant email I received was from a man who read my books, loved them and actually used them to open up a dialogue with a sister he’d been estranged from for over twenty years. They now speak often, which includes discussing the latest Twin Ponds mystery. How cool is that?
Thank you, Bety! If you like mysteries, check out her books on Amazon. Murder by Misadventure is available free through March 18th! You can also follow her on her website www.btlordwriter.com, Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BTLordWriter/ her Bookbub page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/b-t-lord a\and on Instagram as betywriter.